Drug addiction has been an increasingly divisive topic this last year, with babies born to addiction on the rise and news of guardians overdosing with kids around going viral. But one 18-year-old who was raised by parents addicted to heroin and diazepam used her family's difficult circumstances as a catalyst to be a better person. Instead of blaming her mom and dad, Chelsea Cameron wrote a viral open letter thanking them for their absence.
"Parents, both of you, thank you for teaching me that taking drugs ruin lives, breaks families apart and gives no one a quality of life worth living. I'll be eternally grateful for this lesson you have taught me which has a message which has stuck by me until this day and always will. I have never and will never have a desire to take harmful substances through your example," writes the teen from Dundee, Scotland.
Cameron saw her parents' absence as a blessing. They may have missed her younger brother's first day of school, when she was made head girl and when she traveled to Uganda to volunteer—but, in not being there when she needed them, Cameron says they gave her the greatest lesson of how to be independent.
"Life is not sunshine and rainbows and thank you for teaching me that life is unfair, people disappoint you and there's sometimes nothing you can do about that."
I want other young people to know that they're not alone, that there are other people facing these difficulties and to try and have a positive spin on things.
The teen, who stopped living with her parents when she was 14, got her own home last October and has landed an apprenticeship in administration. For four years before then, she stayed with different family and friends. Cameron had hid her family's circumstances from her friends and tried to create an alter ego for a long time. But on her third or fourth year in high school, she realized it was a harsh reality she had to face.
She writes, "Thank you for teaching me to not be so easily embarrassed, you have both made not the best of choices that have sometimes gone pretty public allowing everyone I associate with to know what you are both like. But that has given me the opportunity to speak freely and openly about who I am and how my life has been growing up."
According to the BBC, when the letter was published, Cameron's dad was jailed for a series of crimes.
"I am ashamed and upset at my behavior and am so sorry and so proud of her," her mom, Tammy, told the Dundee Evening Telegraph. Cameron had not spoken to her mom for about a year.
In an interview with BBC, Cameron shared that her letter wasn't meant to be critical of her parents. Instead she wanted to reach out to others in similar circumstances.
"I want other young people to know that they're not alone, that there are other people facing these difficulties and to try and have a positive spin on things," she said. "We live in a society that's filled with negativity and chaos and lots of trouble going on, and I think when we get to that place in our life when we can choose to be positive and choose happiness, it's the best thing for our own well-being."
Read her full letter here. You might want to get some tissues first.